Water tank project slowed

Chad Frey
The Kansan

The skyline on West First is changing, though slower than expected.

The water tank currently sitting near Builder's Concrete will be torn down and replaced — a project that the city had planned to receive bids on this month. That, however, has been d.

"Due to numerous questions and much interest by contractors, the bid opening for the West First Street water tank project has been moved to Dec. 7  ... to allow for additional time to respond to issues and give contractors time to prepare bids," wrote Erin McDaniel, director of communications for the city, in a city newsletter.

In short, a project first discussed nearly 10 years ago has been delayed for a few weeks.

The tank will be, eventually, replaced by a pair of tanks in the area. Another skyline change in the area occurred in May   when owners of a a 100-year-old building on West First was demolished,removing the old Harvey Building that served as a distribution hub for Fred Harvey farms.

The new tank will be to the southwest of the current tank and southwest of current buildings in the area. 

The city has been working on replacing a water tank on West First constructed in the 1930s with a new tank south and west of the current tank, and south and west of current buildings in the area.

The water tank replacement project began in 2012, when a structural inspection revealed that roof-framing members are “severely deteriorated” and there was water seepage from the base of the current tank.

The tank in question is a 3.8 million gallon water storage tank constructed in 1939. The inside of the tank was last painted in 1997.

City staff, and a water system consultant, is recommending building one smaller tank — a 1.9 million gallon tank — at a new location, replacing the 1939 tank with a second 1.9 million gallon tank.

With the location of feeder lines from the Mission Water Station to the city of Newton, it was determined the best place for the new tank would be southwest of the current tank — on property owned by BNSF. The city filed for condemnation in 2017 to acquire land from Nortrack, a rail manufacturing company, and BNSF in the area. 

In October  the commission approved plans and specifications for the replacement  project. At that time, city staff had   obtained a loan from the state for $5.2 million, with an interest rate of about 1.2 percent, for the project.

The regular meeting of the City Commission scheduled for Nov. 23 has been canceled due to the Thanksgiving holiday week. It has been rescheduled as a special meeting for noon Nov. 30.